Wind farm project bonus for local concrete supplier; 18,000 meters for bases of 44 towers at Port Alma
The new Port Alma wind energy project is proving to be the right mix for Leamington’s Lake Erie Concrete Supply.
A normally slow time of year has turned into a very busy season with 40-45 truck-loads of concrete being supplied daily to the wind energy project, according to Max Gowdy of Lake Erie Concrete.
He said, the project has allowed them to keep many employees on longer before having to lay some off during the winter months.
“It’s nice to be able to give the guys a wage up until Christmas time,” he said. “We are lucky this year.”
Gowdy also said, “it is nice to see the funds stay here” in this community instead of going to bigger companies such as in the cities.
Lake Erie Concrete is a family-owned business by Dave, John and Joe Vanderwerf, which has another branch in Tecumseh. It employs between eight to 20 people locally from Leamington, Kingsville and Wheatley, depending on the time of year and demands for concrete, he said. The Tecumseh location employs another 15 people.
The daily truckloads will continue until about Dec. 15 when the bases are expected to be finished, he said.
With a total of 44 wind towers to be erected, on average they are completing a base a day, he said.
There were 25 of 44, 64-foot wide concrete bases completed as of Nov. 23 and on average it was taking four hours of continuous pouring to complete one.
“That’s a lot of scheduling,” said Gary Oliver, of H.B. White, contractors handling the civil work, for many wind farm operations across Canada and the United States, of the number of trucks needed for the steady pouring.
“Lake Erie and Max really did their homework,” said Oliver.
“They did the little things, knew how long it would take – and that said a lot to us,” he said of Lake Erie Concrete being chosen for the job.
“With a project this big you really need to have people who are competent and they are doing a great job,” he said.
Lake Erie Concrete Supply started the 40-45 runs daily the second week of October and are half-way through now, he said.
Gowdy said they have only had a few minor “hiccups” with the operation which included almost running out of fuel (at their own pumps), for the trucks but have since boosted their own supply and things are running smoothly.
“The employees are doing a really good job,” he commented.
When all 44 bases are completed there will be a total of about 18,000 metres of concrete or about $3 million worth, not including the cost of labor or platforms etc.
Gowdy says there has been “talk” of more wind energy projects in this area and hopes to do another one.
“We will be gearing up to do it again,” he said.
He said they did already have a fairly large fleet of trucks but want to continue to grow the business and even added a Telebelt (conveyor equipment).
The wind-farm, which is located in Chatham-Kent, is expected to generate approximately 300 GWh annually, which will produce enough energy to power 30,000 households, according to Kruger Energy Group.
The wind turbines are schedule to be installed early in the new year with a start up date between June and September 2008 and a commercial operation date of October 2008.
Kruger Energy Group, was selected in 2005 by the Ontario Ministry of Energy to complete the 101.2-MW wind farm at a value of $200 million. It will sell renewable energy to the Ontario Power Authority for a period of 20 years.
It was one of nine projects for clean, renewable energy approved by the Ontario government, which had a commitment to provide five per cent, or 1,350 megawatts, of Ontario’s electricity capacity through renewable sources by 2007, and ten per cent, or 2,700 megawatts, by 2010.
When completed each tower will be about 80 ft tall and have rotor blades measuring 45 metres in length. Each tower will also produce 2.3 mega watts of electricity which would supply about 870 average homes.
“When the towers go up they will be bringing in a million pound crane,” said Oliver. “That is why the access roads have to be 10 metres wide.”
He said once the project is complete the access roads and area will be restored to its “natural state” and the roads will be made smaller so that the towers are still accessible.
The land will still be farmed, he said, of the project which is spread out over 25 km of land and is about 2 km of Lake Erie’s shoreline.
By Deanna Getty
28 November 2007
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